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Jefferson Award Winners 2015

News Story

The results are in: 12 members of the Pace Community have been selected to receive Jefferson Awards Bronze Medals for their commitment to service.

Each year, the Jefferson Awards for Public Service looks for the “unsung heroes,” the selfless people who make the world a better place through volunteering and community service efforts. The Center for Community Action and Research (CCAR) at Dyson College is pleased to announce that 12 members of the Pace University Community have been selected to receive Jefferson Awards Bronze Medals for 2015–2016.

Known as the “Nobel Prize for public service,” the Jefferson Awards were established to recognize and honor individuals whose community service efforts best exemplify dedication to enhancing the quality of life in their community. Pace became a Jefferson Awards Champion in 2008.

Director of the CCAR and coordinator of the awards at Pace Mary Ann Murphy, PhD, reflects, “The quality of our award recipients is outstanding. This is manifested in the fact that in the six years we have participated in the Jefferson Awards, two of our representatives (John Cronin ’10 and Lisa Bardill Moscaritolo ’13) have won the national award for service. We are very proud of our Pace Community.”

This year’s winners are:

“Nelli” Pamela Marianelli Villarta Agbulos
Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies double major, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences
NYC Campus
Inspired to work in the nonprofit field of ending sexual violence, Nelli Agbulos conducts extensive research and service work on issues of domestic violence, NYC’s sexual health education, and sexual assault. Her commitment is demonstrated through her ongoing involvement as a volunteer hotline advocate for the Domestic Violence Project, her two years with Generation Citizen (GC) which provided her with the opportunity to be a Democracy Coach and guide high school seniors in creating a curriculum on sexual assault awareness, and her work on getting others involved with the GC club on the Pace NYC Campus. Agbulos co-created and writes for the Anti-Trafficking Independence Project, a blog dedicated to promoting awareness on human trafficking. She serves as a Peer Advocate Against Sexual Assault and she is the creator and co-founder of #PaceUEndRape, a student-led organization committed to sustained activism on ending sexual assault.

Caitlin Boley
Political Science and Religious Studies double major, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences
NYC Campus
Caitlin Boley is passionate about equality and social justice, and has a particular interest in racial justice, disarmament, and international peace. In her work with the CCAR, she supervised more than 10 community service events. She worked with Memphis Work Camp to repair homes for people in need, has been an active member of Model United Nations and the Student Peace Alliance, helped found an alternative student newspaper on campus focusing on activism, and completed a Wilson Center Funded internship with PAX. She is also currently the President of the Pace Political Science Society. Through all of her activities, Boley has demonstrated her passion for community engagement and for inspiring and involving her fellow students in service and activism.

Melissa Cardon, PhD
Professor of Management and Management Science, Lubin School of Business
Westchester Campus (PLV)
Melissa Cardon, PhD, is an extremely active member of her department, school, University, academia, and community, and serves on and leads a number of committees at all of these levels. She has particularly dedicated her time, efforts, and talents to raising awareness and funds to fighting cancer and has been the faculty adviser to Colleges Against Cancer since 2009. Under her mentorship, Relay for Life has raised more than $300,000 in the past six years at Pace and has an average of 60 teams and 525 individuals participate each year. In her local community, she is an active member of the White Plains Relay for Life committee, high school PTA, and Boy Scout troop, and is a Board Member for the McNichols Family Foundation.

Rosanna Corvino
Web Services, ITS
Westchester Campus (BRC)
Rosanna Corvino’s passion for understanding the structures that perpetuate poverty has guided her community service from Chicago, where she taught through Teach for America, to Connecticut, where she is active in many service and nonprofit organizations. She has organized coat drives and Thanksgiving drives for Bridgeport Rescue Mission, for which she is currently organizing a “Stuff a Truck” drive as well. Corvino’s work also expands to organizing several Habitat for Humanity fundraisers and group builds; maintaining the gardens in conjunction with Urban Roots, a community-led, local, urban garden; organizing groups to participate in a myriad of races such as the Lindsay Bonistall 5K for safe living for college students; and doing outreach for MAC Angels foundation for ALS.

Melanie Greene
Information Technology major, Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems
NYC Campus
Melanie Greene is empowering individuals with disabilities to advocate for themselves through innovative technology. Through AHRC New York, she has been utilizing best-in-the-field devices related to fitness, health, medication, nutrition, and weight tools in order to improve the health of those she worked with. She has been engaged in mentoring and assisting people of all ages with disabilities offering comfort and encouraging independence in the management of their personal situations by using iPads, iMovie, and more to tell personalized stories. In addition she has been an active volunteer for Angel’s Circle, Island Shores Nursing Home, March of Dimes, TCS NYC Marathon, and LiveONNY.

Giovanni Lemus
Acting major, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences
NYC Campus
Giovanni Lemus has worked continuously on multiple initiatives to raise awareness about different community issues including sexual assault, immigration, race and identity, and stigmas against mental health services. He founded a non-profit organization called the Dare Tactic, which develops arts education programs designed to cultivate creativity and theatrical expression by partnering with high school student and children's hospitals. In addition to developing these programs, using theater as his medium, he produces a season of productions designed to establish open dialogue regarding the social issues highlighted in each production. In addition, he has participated in disaster relief after Hurricane Sandy, volunteered in local food pantries, worked to clean up state parks and beaches, and is a resident assistant where he works to create programming focused on helping individuals discover their passions and civility.

Ashley Marinaccio
Alumna and Professor of Performing Arts, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences
NYC Campus
Ashley Marinaccio is a founder and the artistic director of Girl Be Heard, a United Nations-recognized nonprofit theater company that presents work written and performed by young women on pressing socio-political issues. Girl Be Heard has served more than 170 tri-state area girls through its award-winning theater company and is in 11 schools across the five boroughs of NYC. Marinaccio is particularly interested in theater as a tool for cultural preservation and healing in communities affected by trauma, war, and displacement and has done theater work in areas of the world including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Taiwan, and Bosnia/Herzegovina. As a faculty member, she co-created the civic engagement course "The Drama of Social Change" and taught "International Performance Ensemble," where she helped her students find their own artistic and intellectual voices and present their work both in New York City and abroad in Thailand.

Carolyn Phillips
Political Science major, Dyson College Arts and Sciences
NYC Campus
Carolyn Phillips has a strong passion for the Olympics and is currently interning with the Special Olympics New York, where she has been a volunteer since her junior year. She recently volunteered at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles and has signed up to volunteer at the Olympics in Rio. Aside from her passion for the Olympics, Phillips is also very passionate about volunteering and has done so for years. She has focused on serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, supporting cancer research and cancer patients, animals, and countries in need such as Uganda and Darfur. She also uses her skills as a photographer to help photograph events for charities and foundations. Phillips has proven to be a leader in all that she does and this can be seen throughout her service work.

Debra Sassano
Office of the Dean, College of Health Professions
Westchester Campus (PLV)
Whether it be rocking an infant to sleep in a hospital children’s ward, or—with her son—collecting toys at the holidays for hospitalized children and delivering them to the Child Life Department staff to make sure that every child has a gift, or organizing a breakfast for sophomore nursing students wearing their scrubs for the first time, Debra Sassano is always ready to serve her community in all possible venues. She helped with volunteer relief when Hurricane Sandy struck, collected personal items for earthquake victims in Haiti, sends collected toiletries to the homeless women’s shelter, and volunteers regularly with Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.

Christelle Scharff, PhD
Professor of Computer Science, Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems
NYC Campus
Christelle Scharff, PhD, has taught numerous courses at Pace University, including software engineering, quality assurance and reliability, databases, programming, and mobile application development. In several of these courses, students from Pace collaborate with students abroad (Cambodia, India, Thailand, Senegal, and Tanzania) on software development projects with social impact. In 2008, she founded a project called Mobile Senegal, whose mission is to “build capacity in mobile app development and organize activities for the wider tech community.” In the past six years, the organization has trained more than 450 developers in mobile app development in Senegal and is listed as an African Tech Hub by the World Bank.

Jim Stenerson, PhD
Executive Director of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology (CTLT) and Women’s and Gender Studies Professor
Westchester Campus (PLV)
Since coming out as a gay person in the 1970s, Jim Stenerson, PhD, has committed to advancing LGBT rights and social issues. Most recently he worked with Westchester Pride Works, where he has been volunteering since 2007, to bring 500 youth and allies to Pace for a conferences in 2014 and 2015. He was introduced to Pride Works through his work with Westchester County New York LGBT Advisory Board to the County Exec and served as chair from 2009–2013. He created and taught the first Queer Cultures course taught on the Westchester Campus; is a Board of Trustee Member of the Charter School of Educational Excellence in Yonkers, New York; is formerly on the Board of Directors for S.A.G.E. (Service and Advocacy for Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Elders) New York City; and also serves on the LGBT Advisory Board to the Westchester County Executor.

Raevin Adria Walters
International Management major, Lubin School of Business
Westchester Campus (PLV)
As a member of the Setter’s Leadership and Service House, Raevin Adria Walters assisted kids with special needs at Pleasantville Elementary School. She has participated in Make a Difference Day, Relay for Life, and Paint a School Day every year. She served on the Board of Directors for the Pace 4 Kids Dance Marathon and raised money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Special Olympics, ARC, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She has contributed more than 300 hours to Princeton Plainsboro Medical Hospital as a volunteer and continuously participates in community service events throughout her four years at Pace.

For more information about each of the recipients, including full bios and what motivates them to do good for their communities, visit the Center for Community Action and Research at Dyson College website.